The beginning of May was a key moment in the ancient celtic calendar – Beltane, or Bealtaine was the festival of Spring, celebrating nature, the first growth of crops and the strengthening of the sun. Great fires were lit to celebrate the return of the light and wildflowers were gathered and made into garlands and posies to decorate homes.
I can identify with the joy of the celts during Beltane. I’d be willing to place a sturdy bet on the fact that these few weeks, right now, when birds are singing and nesting, blossom is everywhere and wildflowers are emerging in every hedgerow, have inspired the most poetry and song-writing. I took my dear friend Rachael to a nearby bluebell wood a week or two ago. Bradfield woods has been a working hazel coppice since 1252 and the bluebells blend so beautifully with the stands of living hazel poles. This is what we saw:
This intense blue haze seems almost unreal and gave me a giddy, thrilled feeling. An expanse of bluebells on a woodland floor is surely one of the most special sights in Britain. (NB I didn’t enhance the blue in the image below, these bluebells almost glowed).
Anne Bronte must have visited a similar spot when she wrote:
A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell
(from Anne Bronte’s poem The Bluebell)
So many plants, in both hedgerow and garden, are just reaching that moment when they’ll look their very best. My long-standing favourite, cow parsley, is around a week behind compared to the same week last year. Those delicate green spikes, to me like the loveliest little fireworks, are about to burst into frothy white sprays along the Fenny verges.
Today I had an unexpected floral surprise-I noticed a drift of bright greenish white near the chemist in the next village as I drove by. A whole constellation of wild ornithogalum umbellatum- the Star of Bethlehem flower-was flowering in the gravel. No one seemed to notice them but I pulled the car over, not for toothpaste or calpol as usual, but to reassure myself that these were really here.
Last week, on my birthday, I visited Mickfield meadow – an ancient, undisturbed, unploughed field in Suffolk. The flowers I saw there were breathtaking. I’m editing my first (proper) Youtube video of it and it’ll be on its way soon…
What’s your favourite part of Spring? Do tell…
Note: to celebrate Spring and the emergence of the buds on my clematis montana just now there is 15% off my nature table collection of necklace designs in my etsy shop-enter SPSPRING15 at checkout